Poison Control

Mark Johnston, Connections PastorBottle of Poison

When he was little, our son, like a lot of kids, had a habit of sticking things in his mouth that didn’t belong there.

He was our only boy, and he was just…different than the girls had been. Years later we found out that his older sister, who had not wanted to give up her ‘binky’ when the proper time came, would snatch his from his mouth every chance she got, use it herself for a few seconds, and plop it back in his mouth when we looked around. He was not the type to complain, but, in hindsight, we think this trauma led to him wanting to eat & drink things he shouldn’t.

Angie was giving him a bath once, and he burped out a gigantic soap bubble. Turned out, he’d drank a glug of shampoo while her back was turned, and after a frantic call to Poison Control, screaming unpronounceable ingredients over the phone, they analyzed them and eventually deemed him alright and not in need of a trip to the Emergency Room.

Another time, he ate some flowers or leaves off an oleander bush in the back yard, but according to the Poison Control people, not enough to make him sick, or kill him.

The advice on most occasions was ‘just watch him for a while and call 911 if he starts having a reaction.’

When he was a little older, he accidentally swallowed a ball bearing from his Connetix kit, which prompted another call, and the reassurance that, while eating one magnetic ball is not a huge deal, two can cause major intestinal problems, and she was going to have to make sure that it ‘passed’ over the course of the next couple of days.

Not fun. At all. (Angie in the background: “What are you talking about? You were at work! I was the one having to inspect the poo!”)

So, she kept Poison Control on speed dial on our clunky old wireless house phone, and used it so much, she was probably on the ‘frequent caller list’ with the evening operator. “Hello, Mrs. Johnston—what has Spencer swallowed this time?”

This morning i was thinking about those days and how we sometimes try to use God like she used Poison Control back then—something potentially horrible happened, so she made a crazed phone call for reassurance that everything was going to be okay.

She never called the lady unless she needed something.

Now of course, that’s silly—an emergency operator is far too busy to engage in small talk like a manicurist or hairdresser, but what if they weren’t? What if we each had our own operator that wanted to know the events of our day, what our struggles were, and was genuinely interested in how he could be of help to us, not only in times of crisis?

A personal relationship with the real 911.

God shows us how this whole thing was supposed to work in the book of Genesis. Even after the fall, which apparently didn’t take much time at all (Chapter 3) part of the original design shined through.

I used this passage from Genesis 5 in a blog post a couple on months ago, but think about it again for a second: “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”

So, as jacked up as the world was (and is) it was still possible for this man, Enoch, to ‘walk with God’ enough in his daily life…so much so that God himself basically just said ‘hey, enough of this mess on earth for you, Enoch. Come up here and commune with me all the time.

I know—the world was less complicated then. We don’t get a glimpse of what everyday life was like, but from our modern prospective, it sorta looks like living a long time, probably farming…milking the goat so your 200 year old kid can have it on his cereal (yeah…i’m speculating here) and having a fair amount of time on your hands to think about spiritual matters, which had been handed down through the generations.

These days, we have all the information in history at our fingertips. In this 24 hour cable news and ‘how many likes will this get me on Instagram’ world, with jobs where communication with other people is what many of us do most of the day; most of us don’t really make time to ‘commune’ with God the way, say, a solitary tentmaker, or a guy plowing a few acres behind an ox would. Those extended times of solitude are few and far between for most of us, so it’s hard for us to relate to the original design.

So we have to make time with God a priority.

I understand that if you’re in the office, or working a job, your boss or client is not going to be too understanding if you spend half your time looking up at the sky and praying instead of performing the task at hand. But what about listening to a podcast or finding some good Christian music (it does exist) to listen to on the way to the job? How about simply talking to Him about things you’re struggling with in life?

I promise you, it will change your attitude about the jerk that just pulled over into your lane or drove on the median to get around the traffic jam. You end up saying quick, honest prayers for those people, that they’ll be able to slow down, see the blessings around them, and realize that those things are all provided by a loving, caring God who just wants a relationship with them.

What about keeping a prayer list on your phone and genuinely saying quick prayers for those folks when they come to mind throughout your day?

I know it’s hard. You’re busier. The kids have baseball practice and dinner has to be made, you have to get those taxes ready to file…life will beat you up if you let it.

If you stop trying to use God the way we used to use Poison Control, slow down a few steps and see Him for who He really is, it’ll change.

Some resources are available here:

The Stonepoint Podcast—audio of our Sunday messages, past and current:


A choice of Bible reading plans:


The awesome You Version Bible App has the option to read the passages to you (perfect for commuters):


Join the Journey through Watermark Church in Dallas (also available in the App Store or Google Play Store)


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